Star Wars amazes me with its ability to continually evolve our culture. Everyone, well, most everyone, acknowledges the deep impact that A New Hope made when it was released in 1977. Many, though, would believe that that is where the impact ended. I say thee nay! The Phantom Menace, also, made many lasting changes in our (pop) cultural awareness and created many changes within the movie industry, not the least of which was Lucas' insistence that TPM only be played in theaters with digital sound. That was the reason for the price hike in tickets when TPM was released as theaters scrambled to update their sound systems and cover the costs out of someone else's pockets. However, TPM is responsible for creating another cultural phenomenon: the midnight movie release.
And let me just say: "I'm getting too old for this sort of thing."
It's been a couple of years since I went to a midnight show, and, last night, I remembered why. And it's not just because I don't have the same stamina that I had a dozen years ago when TPM came out and I still wasn't 30, because I handled it better than the not-yet-30-year-old friend I went to the midnight showing of Thor with. I mean, I don't have that same stamina, and I'm feeling the lack of sleep today in a way I wouldn't have a dozen years ago, but, really, that's not the issue.
When TPM came out, -everyone- went to the midnight show. I don't mean that in the sense that everyone went, but Star Wars fans of all ages went. There were kids there. There were teens there. But, more importantly, there were adults there. Real adults. Not just college students. People in their 20s, yes, but also people in their 30s, 40s, and, even, 50s. It was calmer. More civilised. Not random and clumsy like midnight showings are today.
There has been a slow devolution to the crowd at these midnight things. People my age just, really, don't show up for them anymore. It's all kids, now. It's like some surreal kegger with no alcohol. Not that I've ever been to a kegger, but, you know, I've seen them in movies. People jumping over the seats. Throwing things. Being loud. I remember thinking all of this a couple or few years ago when Spider-Man 3 came out. How I was never going to another midnight show again. Ever. But midnight last night ended up being the only available time I'd have to go see Thor with my friend this weekend (it's a very busy weekend), and we wanted to see it this weekend, so we went to the midnight show.
Around 11:20 a guy comes in dressed as Thor. It wasn't a bad costume. He was the only one dressed up, but there is always, at least, one. The theater management chased him down and awarded him with 12" Thor action figure. We know, because he talked about it very loudly. He was, by far, the loudest person in the theater, in fact. And he proceeded to sit down right behind us. Him and his buds. Of which, one was a girl. Also quite loud. He and the girl proceeded to open the action figure and play with it and complain about the fact that it came with a sword. Not that the hammer wasn't there, but there was also a sword. I'm thinking "bonus" but they went on about the inclusion of the sword at some length.
Then... then it got really good. The guy started translating the runes on the hammer. You know, because he's an expert at that sort of thing. He determined that they had spelled some of it incorrectly. Not the runes, he said, but the English. Yes, they misspelled the runes so that the English came out wrong. And he knows, because he's an expert. And an English major. He stated that several times. I'm guessing because that gives him an extra ability to translate Norse runes.
I really, really wanted to laugh. At him. Not with him. But I was good, and I didn't. Because I do have a degree in English. A finished degree. Not an in process degree. Not that that makes a huge difference, but I do, amazingly enough, remember being 20 and being, well, full of myself. But I keep telling myself I wasn't that bad. I wasn't! For one thing, I'm sure I was never that loud. Of course, I'm not the kind of personality that dresses up for those kinds of things, either. Even when they're Star Wars.
Finally, the movie started! Mostly, they shut up. Mostly. At least, we were able to tune them out once we got involved in the show. Up until the point where the film went out of alignment during the climax, and they started yelling about it. Of course, they weren't the only ones yelling, at that point. It took the theater personnel almost 10 minutes before they fixed that.
Despite all of the... technical... difficulties, the movie was good. Not Iron Man or Spider-Man good, but good. Certainly better than The Dark Knight although I'm sure that that will be a very unpopular opinion (but seriously, have you ever tried to sit through Dark Knight a second time. If you can't sit through something on a second viewing... well, that just drops the rating). And Hemsworth was an excellent choice for Thor. I was impressed. I'm going to have to consider not allowing my wife to see the movie, since he does parade around sans shirt at one point. Ray Stevenson, also, was excellent. It was good to see the Warriors Three in the film.
Asgard has a great look. It's very Jack Kirby. Stan Lee makes his traditional cameo. There's a nod to Journey Into Mystery, the comic book in which Thor makes his first appearance, if you're paying enough attention to catch it. And it was good to see Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) get more play. Even Hawkeye makes a brief appearance, which was also great. Anthony Hopkins filled out the role of Odin perfectly, and he probably didn't even break a sweat doing it. Although he did lose an eye.
None of this to say that the movie didn't have some faults. There were some changes made to Marvel cannon that I can't bring myself to approve of. The main one, on the surface, was made for "story" reasons, but it wasn't necessary. If you're not a comic person, a Thor person, specifically, you'll never know, but it's one of those things that, as a fan, I have to wonder what they were thinking when they did that. Yes, it bothers me. But it doesn't affect the movie itself. The main flaw with movie is a bit of waffling with the character of Thor. He vacillates between being confused about Earth and seeming to not know where he is or what's going on to being very wise about Earth and the ways of man. It's like they couldn't decide which way to play the character and so used either of the extremes to fit the mood they wanted at any given moment. It would have been okay to have started at confused and ended at wise, but going back-and-forth doesn't really work.
I do wish I had gone to see it in 3d, though. Some of those scenes looked like they would have been amazing in 3d. But they keep jacking up the price difference between the 2d and the 3d, and they finally jacked up to where I'm not willing to pay that difference. At least not until The Phantom Menace hits theaters in 3d next February. And, possibly, Cars 2 this summer, because that's how my kids will want to see that.
At any rate, Thor shouldn't have the issues that Marvel has had with the Hulk movies. It's enjoyable. It's not deep, but it is a good romp. It places another piece of the puzzle for the upcoming Avengers movie, and it lays the groundwork for a sequel that should be able to go a bit deeper and do a bit more, so I think it was a great start to the franchise. Yes, I say franchise, because I will be very surprised if we don't get word soon that there is another in the works.
I hope you all enjoyed this pop culture edition. Remember, it stays crispy in milk!